Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer

Final Fantasy VI: Playthrough Diary II

Mass Effect has nothing on Final Fantasy VI. My entire time in Vector, capital of Gestahl’s murderous empire, was spent in heated conversation. The dialogue choices I made during our dinner soiree determined whether or not occupied cities would be liberated – a thorny situation that I’m sure even Shepard would have a hard time navigating on his magical dialogue wheel. It’s a good thing Gau is such a shrewd negotiator.

I’m creeping ever closer to the ominous floating continent, and I thought I’d lay out precisely what kind of challenge run I’m pursuing. My intention is to complete the entire game without receiving a single stat boost from an esper. No bonus magic power, no bonus hit points, no nothing. I’ve never liked the min/maxing the esper system encourages, so I’ve decided to ignore this aspect of the metagame and run with the natural strengths and weaknesses of the characters.

Unlike the ever popular natural magic challenge run (which forfeits espers entirely), my characters can still learn some magic. There are a handful of espers that do not have any sort of level up bonus attached to them. Pieces of equipment that teach magic spells, such as the Thunder Shield, are also fair game. I’ve compiled a list of spells that are available using this methodology and how they can be learned.

Spell Learned from
Antdot Kirin
Bolt 2 Thunder Shield
Cure Kirin, Shiva, Sraphim
Cure 2 Kirin, Unicorn, Sraphim
Cure 3 Phoenix
Dispel Unicorn, Alexandr
Fire 2 Fire Shield
Fire 3 Phoenix
Float Palidor
Haste Carbunkl, Palidor
Haste 2 Palidor
Ice Shiva
Ice 2 Shiva, Ice Shield
Imp Tortoise Shield, Titanium, Imp Armor
Life Sraphim, Phoenix
Life 2 Phoenix
Life 3 Phoenix
Osmose Shiva
Pearl Alexandr
Rasp Shiva
Rflect Carbunkl
Regen Kirin, Sraphim
Remedy Kirin, Unicorn, Sraphim, Alexandr
Safe Carbunkl, Unicorn, Alexandr
Scan Kirin
Shell Carbunkl, Unicorn, Alexandr, Force Shield
Slow Palidor
Slow 2 Palidor
Ultima Ragnarok, Paladin Shield
Warp Carbunkl

I was relieved to discover that all the basic Cure and Life spells are at my disposal. Natural magic runs are often trying due to the lack of reliable healing, but this won’t be an issue for me. Instead my main hurdle will be a lack of firepower. Ice and Ice 2 are my only offensive options in the World of Balance, hamstringing my ability to hit elemental weaknesses. My situation improves slightly in the World of Ruin with the addition of Fire 2, Fire 3, Bolt 2, Pearl, and Ultima, but the lack of Bolt 3 and Ice 3 are still problematic.

How with this affect my playthrough? Well, I’ll be rushing the Phoenix Cave in the World of Ruin for starters. The Phoenix esper teaches Fire 3, Cure 3, Life 2, and Life 3 – all spells I’ll be relying on heavily. The dungeon also offers an infinite supply of Economizers and opens the door to learning Ultima. Once I have that potent combination in my pocket, I should be able to breeze through the rest of the game.

Ha-wuhhhhhh no magic you say?

Strago, one of my favourite characters, will be seeing a lot of mileage. The Aqua Rake, Clean Sweep, Aero, Pearl Wind, Big Guard, and Grand Train lores will all be as useful as they are in a natural magic run. Celes and Terra will be indispensable for their free spells, and Edgar, Sabin, Setzer, and Shadow will be able to help mitigate the loss of fire power with their special abilities. Combined with the usual cheese (wind god Gau, dragoon Mog, imped Relm), I should be able to manage.

Expect more status reports of my progress in the future. I’m hoping to crack into the World of Ruin within the next few days. I just have to make sure I take care of everything in the World of Balance before I destroy it.

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By Mathew
Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer